Mohamed Mahmoud

Mohamed MahmoudThe 2023 winner of the Caplenor Faculty Research Award at Tennessee Tech University is a busy man. Aside from winning that prestigious award, he has also won the nationally competitive Fulbright United States Scholar Award.

Mohamed Mahmoud, associate professor in the electrical and computer engineering department, won the Caplenor award for his research involving cybersecurity.  His research includes devising protocols and schemes to protect the security of emerging wireless networks and preserve citizens’ privacy.

“It is a big honor to win such a prestigious award, especially the competition at the university level,” Mahmoud said. 

The Caplenor Faculty Research Award, established in 1984 in honor of the late Dr. Charles Donald Caplenor, former Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Instructional Development, is awarded annually to one member of the faculty of Tennessee Tech University for outstanding research accomplished while employed at the University.

Mahmoud joined Tech’s faculty in 2013 because of the cybersecurity program and has witnessed not only the growth in research, but also in achieving higher education standards across the board. 

“My research area is cybersecurity and during my interview, I saw that Tech has a main research focus in cybersecurity,” Mahmoud said. “I see the big improvement the university was able to achieve during these years. Our ranking has elevated from Master institution to a Ph.D. institution. I see a lot of focus on conducting cutting edge research and securing external grants in addition to providing high standard education.”

In his time at Tech he has created an exceptional record of peer-reviewed publications and competitive external research grants. He has co-authored more than 110 peer-reviewed publications and has been the recipient of eleven competitive research grants: four from the National Science Foundation, five from the Qatar Foundation, one from the National Security Agency, and one from the Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

These grants represent total research funding of $6 million, of which Tech’s share was $2 million. With these funds, he has supported 10 Ph.D. students, according to Allen MacKenzie, professor and chair, electrical and computer engineering department. In addition, through two NSF REU grants, he has supported 60 undergraduate students, helping to develop the future cybersecurity workforce in the U.S.

These numbers represent a level of influence that is almost unmatched among Tennessee Tech researchers, as well as across the nation according to Mackenzie. 

“I firmly believe that my job as a faculty member is helping students, graduate or undergraduate, to succeed. I feel happy, satisfied and proud when I see my students succeed,” Mahmoud said. “My former students are currently faculty members in different universities in the USA. I am collaborating with them and helping and advising them.”

His research focuses on three main areas: self-driving vehicles, electric vehicle communications, and smart power grid communication networks. In the self-driving vehicles research area, Mahmoud has been devising security protocols and schemes for the future automated transportation systems. 

“Dr. Mahmoud is among the first researchers who started to envision the new applications and services that will be needed in these future automated transportation systems,” MacKenzie said. “He has worked with his research team to devise new schemes for the management and operation of these new transportation systems, and he has received a competitive NSF grant to support his research in this research area.”

In electric vehicles communications, Mahmoud has devised several communication schemes for power injection, dynamic charging, and charging coordination applications. The proposed research addresses several challenges in managing electric vehicles. His team has devised an innovative scheme that combines both cryptography and physical layer techniques to overcome these challenges. 

“His proposed schemes can provide enough information to allow for good optimization performance without leaking sensitive information about the users,” MacKenzie said. 

In the smart power grid research area, Mahmoud has made a leading attempt to investigate the efficiency and security of certificate revocation for Automatic Metering Infrastructure communications. The proposed schemes facilitate the use of public key cryptography to secure the communications within the smart grid. 

“The impact of this work is very distinctive, as it addresses critical scalability issues in a public key cryptosystem with devices with limited computation and storage resources, " MacKenzie said. “Recently, he has been investigating different machine learning approaches to contribute to the security of the smart grid.”

Mahmoud has also developed three graduate courses closely related to his research titled “security and privacy preservation for wireless networks,” “advanced cryptography application in emerging wireless networks,” and “machine learning in cybersecurity.” Mahmoud has excelled in student advisement, according to MacKenzie, and his students are well published, and some of his former Ph.D. students have been able to secure faculty positions at top education institutions across the nation. 

Mahmoud has won three prestigious Best Paper awards from top conferences in wireless communications and networking.  Tech has also recognized Mahmoud’s excellence in research through several awards. He won the Kinslow Engineering Research Award, given annually for the best paper written by a Tech engineering faculty member and published in a peer-reviewed journal, in both 2018 and 2020. 

He won the 2017-2018 Scholastic Research Award, and the prestigious 2018 Brown-Henderson Outstanding Engineering Faculty Award. And he was the 2017 recipient of the Tech Rising Renaissance Engineer Faculty Scholar Award. Additionally, Mahmoud has won the Wings Up 100 Research Achievement Award, given to Tech faculty who activated at least $100,000 in external research grants in one year in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

“I am happy here for sure, we have wonderful students,” Mahmoud said.  “I received a lot of support and guidance from the electrical and computer engineering department, college of engineering and centers.”

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar program is administered by the Department of State, and it aims to strengthen the relations with other countries through exchanging students and scholars. College and university faculty, administrators, and researchers, as well as artists and professionals build their skills and connections, gain valuable international insights, and return home to share their experiences with their students and colleagues.  

“Because of this award, I am spending this semester in Qatar, a small country in the middle east close to Dubai,” Mahmoud said.

Mahmoud said the future of the electrical and computer engineering program at Tech is bright with increasing interest and visionary leadership. 

“The electrical and computer engineering program is one of the most enrolled programs in the college of engineering. There is an increasing interest from students to join the department,” Mahmoud said. “Our current department chair, Dr Allen MacKenzie, has a good vision for upgrading the curriculum of the department and increasing the scholarly activities.” 

The new Ashraf Islam Engineering Building will also be a valuable resource for the engineering department and researchers, according to Mahmoud.   The new engineering building will be the first new engineering facility at Tech in 50 years. It will be a student-centered interdisciplinary smart building used by all departments in the college. 

“This is really a big addition to the department. I would like to thank everyone who worked to make this dream a reality,” Mahmoud said. “We will have a good research infrastructure that will definitely support my research.” 

For more information on the Caplenor Faculty Research Award visit, and for information about the  

electrical and computer engineering department visit

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